Developing Our Photographic Eye

The other day it occurred to me that we may be missing some very important things about improving our photography. I think we have all heard the saying “That he or she has the eye,” for this or that endeavor. Perhaps some people have a greater innate ability. However, there are some things that we all can do to make great leaps in our work.

Elk foraging, winter, Great Smoky Mountain National Park
Elk foraging, winter, Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Stay Positive.

With nature as our playground, it is often easy to just give up because “We just can’t find anything to shoot.” I hear that a lot. And it can be discouraging. Just yesterday, we were over in the park and the elk were foraging. For a person that has not been around these magnificent creatures before, it can be thrilling. For us, not so much. It was a dreary morning, intermittent rain drops, 46° and the great racks of the fall rut on the Bulls were not to be found. Only doe with collars and dull distressed winter coats. What was the problem?

The problem was me? Stinking thinking, we use to call it. The elk were happy, even play-sparing here and there. The mountains and the grays of winter are part of the natural process. What to do?

Start shooting…

Old Farm House, Appalachian Mountains
Old Farm House, Appalachian Mountains

What emphasizes the solace of these days?  We can shoot the signs of mountain’s winter coat – bare trees, few leaves, open barren scapes, mountain mist, these are all things that communicate where we are. That more positive attitude may get us pumping pictures through our camera. And the more we shoot the more we will see.

About our Camera…

Use the features on our camera instead of blaming our work on not having this lens or that piece of equipment. Every picture taking device has short comings as well as benefits, and for the moment, what we have in our hands is what we’ve got.

A new Look…

These days, I don’t see many close up images that really communicate. What elements say feb-rain-dropmountain winter. It rains a lot and sometimes snows. On this day we had rain – that won’t change. Water droplets are forming on barren twigs. Can we capture that? A few leaves hanging on a twig. How can we capture that solitary moment.

Elements that can help…

For a moment, let’s shift gears from picture taking to communicating. What is there about the latter that can help make our work better? After all, our craft, PHOTOGRAPHY came from the Greek translation. PHOTO means “Light” in Greek. GRAPHY means “Writing.” Writing with Light! So, in the pure form, our task is to communicate in pictures. No longer will pictures of things be good enough for us. We need to have them speak!

What are the elements of Graphics that we can use to better communicate with our images? I googled it.

Design specialists, Una Healy Design says, The Elements of Good Graphic Design are the components or parts of a work of art or design.  More simply put, they are the ingredients of art.  Take one part color, a pinch of texture, and a whole lot of shape and the result will be some well designed graphic design.

Recipes may vary, but all works of art and design contain a combination of the following seven elements shown in this infographic:

A few of them are Color, Texture, Space, and Shape.

So, now we broach the subject of Art or Design in our work. In a few images we made during that morning we specifically worked with design elements to make something that visually speaks.

Try this technique.

Hanging Leaf, Great Smoky Mountain National Park
Hanging Leaf, Great Smoky Mountain National Park
  • To simply blur or soften the background, move your camera closer to the subject. In fact let’s find out how close we can get and still be able to get sharp focus of the subject, and only the subject. This alone will help organize clutter.
  • To reduce distraction around the edges use your longest lens. By setting the aperture to the widest aperture setting, probably f/5.6 or f/6.3, we encourage greater softness of the background. If  your telephoto lens is fast, a f/2.8 or f/4.0,  the background will go softer or good “Bokeh” – or shallow depth-of-field.
  • If your long lens won’t get very close you may need an extension tube or close-up filter.
  • Make sure the subject takes up at least 1/3 of the frame. In this example we used a 200mm lens, aperture was set at  6.3, we were about 6” from the subject and we were on a tripod.
  • Select a subject that is separated from the background.
  • It is often more important to have good design elements on an ordinary subject than a particular subject with poor design elements.

winter-tree-2This second subject is all about texture but we still tried to separate it as much as possible from the background, The lens was a 200mm.

Something else, our eye goes to the brightest part of an image.

If you only have a Smartphone or compact camera you may have to select a subject that has a non-distracting background. Use a tree as a background or a large dark space.

Click here for good source of more information on Graphic Design.

We would love to hear your take on this subject, Share it, Like it, and follow for more information. Thanks for dropping in.

Bob says… Thanks
Bob says… Thanks

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